Review: Eddie The Eagle
If there were a class at Disney studios meant to teach aspiring Disney directors how to make a textbook inspirational sports movie, Eddie the Eagle would be playing on a loop.
As a child, Eddie Edwards had dreams of being an Olympian but virtually no talent. He developed some skill in skiing but didn’t have the posh status to make the British Olympic ski team. So, he tried his hand at ski-jumping instead. Against all odds (seriously, pretty much everything was going against this guy), Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards became Britain’s first Olympic ski-jumper since 1929 and despite finishing last at the 1988 Calgary Olympics, Edwards became an international folk-hero.
Edwards is gamely played by an unrecognizable Tarun Egerton of Kingsman fame and the film works in large part due to his performance. Egerton embodies Edwards with the right balance of gumption and gawkiness. Hugh Jackman is reliably good but his character rings a bit hollow and his battle with alcoholism is overly cute. But, the coach always has to have some inner demons to battle along with his past, so that’s really just par for the course. Christopher Walken also appears very briefly but the real scene stealers are Eddie’s parents.
It’s an overly traditional movie even for one of film’s most worn out but popular genres. There is seemingly no attempt to break formula which is disappointing given the source material. The former athlete turned coach and the unlikely athlete come together to do the impossible, accompanied by a period appropriate soundtrack and cheering crowds. The familiar characters and narrative arc make the story thoroughly digestible but also take away from the novelty of what is a truly remarkable story.
There is some comfort in the predictability of it all; the sweetness and sentimentality are disarming. The strong performances and compelling story make it worth a watch but you could also just watch Cool Runnings, which hits all the same notes and even takes place at the same Olympics, but has John Candy and no 80’s synth score.